'All we ever had is gone' was written by Tini, Magne, Marius Beck and Martin Halla. Magne played piano and keyboard on this track; Marius Beck did backing vocals and played acoustic guitar. Here are a couple of photos from recording, back in October 2013: Picture 1 || Picture 2
Before I get into the lyrics, I don't want to forget to mention that I love Marius' backing vocals, he and Tini sound great together :-)
I am sure some other people had the same reaction to the song that I did: my initial split-second impression of the song - which we heard first in 'The Search For Sound' without a title or anything - was that it was a wonderful, upbeat song. Then when I heard the refrain, I realized my assumptions were wrong, and there was much more to it than that. Saying everything you had with someone is gone would have to be a wrenching experience, assuming that what you had together was loving and wonderful at some point in the past. Walking away from that kind of love and acknowledging together (from the lyrics, it sounds like this is a mutual realization somehow, not a cruel brush off or so) that there is no joint future anymore must be very difficult. Even more so if you have been together for a long time and built a life together, as it seems in this song. It's not about a dying superficial crush or a fleeting romance.
Behind the shadow of our days
We found the things
that we've searched for
All our lives
We couldn't see this moment coming
Around the corner
Between the lines
Changing all that we wanted
We let the life we had unwind
Starting out in life, we all have certain goals, hopes and dreams, not to mention fears and worries, and all of these make up much of what motivates and excites us every day; your partner may not share them all completely - everyone has their own goals, dreams and fears - but ideally together you strive to understand and support each other, share fully in each other's successes and help each other through challenges and setbacks, and be a constant safe place for each other's deepest emotions and thoughts. I've written before about how being in love gives you confidence; part of that is knowing that someone knows and understands you, and most importantly accepts you no matter what. And perhaps with the optimism and easy devotion of youth, when you start to build a life together, you can't imagine that your hearts could ever change ('we couldn't see this moment coming').
But life is long and hearts do change. Devotion is not easy, it's damn difficult. And when what you want in life changes, perhaps subtly at first, but in more substantial ways over time, it is easy for partners to lose track of each other's priorities and dreams, and come to realize that they no longer understand what motivates the other person anymore. When the person you're with begins to dismiss your new goals and dreams and fears as confusing, unrealistic, trivial, or maybe even annoying, it's natural to start to hold back your deepest hopes or hide your true goals, or to protect the new things that bring you happiness, because you know they will not be understood or respected. At the same time, you may notice that when your love tells their stories or shares their perspectives, you can't relate to them as well as you used to be able to.
Those few words, 'changing all that we wanted', sound so simple and yet they signify a major relationship breakdown if the new things each of you want are completely incompatible. Maybe you realize this and start to ask fewer questions of each other, or you stop sharing as much about what makes you happy or inspires you, or you really try to listen with an open mind but you somehow can't connect with what the other person is trying to express.
In a basic sense: when what you want lies down a different path than the one your partner is moving towards, you can find yourself on different schedules, spending time with different people, working towards competely different priorities, sharing less and less of yourselves. There doesn't have to be a deliberate hurt or offense given, no line drawn in the sand, just a divergence that eventually makes itself known to both of you. 'We let the life we had unwind.' At some point you stop fighting to stay together, and allow that divergence to become the new normal. From there it is only natural to start looking around for someone who shares (or at least understands) your new goals and dreams and fears.
Silently turning to others
We looked for the smallest sign
I have a couple of theories about what these lines may mean:
~ When you find your life together 'unwinding', and you start spending more time with people who share your new interests and provide the emotional support and understanding you need, you may look to your partner for any kind of small sign that they notice this change, in the hope that they will make an effort to reconnect.
~ I think it more likely that 'turning to others' is what it sounds like, actually looking for a new partner with whom you can be open about your goals and dreams and fears; the silence is so sad because it means you are holding back something you really want to share with someone. Not only that, but keep in mind: silence may always win ('The Longest Night') in a fight, but silence can also very quickly kill love. We all need reassurance at times, we all need to know we are loved and understood, so for me I think the saddest part of the song is this 'silently turning to others' line. It implies not only withdrawing your love from your partner, but also not being as open with a new person perhaps; it's not as easy falling in love a second time, you may be slower to take a chance than when you were young and you had no idea what it would take to keep love strong over a lifetime. Anyway, probably the 'smallest sign' simply means looking for that kindred spirit - knowing what you want and being more than ready to love again if only you get a sign that your new love feels the same way you do.
But remember that when looking for a sign, you have to give a sign, too! Someone has to take that first step, and if you are both too afraid to open that door without a clear sign from the other person, nothing will ever happen ;-)
Slight aside - this reminds me of a song I recently discovered: 'Crazy For You' by Scars on 45.
I only wish I had someone to tell
but I'm still confined by the walls that I built myself
The video is kind of fun - they both need a braver, alternate self to get past their insecurities and be together. Who hasn't felt that way at some point in their life? ;-)
But what it comes down to for me with both songs is that love is meant to be shared, it isn't meant to be silent, it isn't meant to be hidden away; love should light up your face when you see each other, love should be allowed to grow on its own and not be contained. Being in love means - among many other things - looking each other in the eyes and not having to hide how you feel about anything.
But all we ever had is gone
Now we need to move on
As I said before, this is happening for both of them; it isn't like one is cheating on the other or that one is still devoted while the other one longs for something else. They are both seeking connection and understanding elsewhere, so it's better for them to just admit it and close their chapter together. It's a difficult thing to hear and to say, but it's honest and clear and not intended to be hurtful IMO. And in this honesty there is hope for them both of finding happiness elsewhere.
Leaves are falling on my doorstep
And I am stalling a growing frown
But walking barefoot on the carpet
Calms my nerves
And I settle down
This all seems to indicate the passage of time, perhaps some impatience and loneliness. Maybe she is frustrated that her new love hasn't given her the sign she is looking for, maybe she is impatient waiting for closure in the old relationship so she can be free to find a new love.
I close my eyes and I hear you
Telling me all the things I am
It takes me back to the start
Refilling the hourglass with sand
These are my favorite lines in the song :-) It all goes back to that understanding, having someone who knows your heart and can reassure you of your place in the world. These lines also remind me a bit of 'Too Far, Too Fast':
Nights I lie awake
Your voice inside me
Strange how much it aches
Strange how long it takes
Again, I have a couple of theories about these lines, because really I think too much ;-) She could be thinking of her past love - meaning despite their lives untangling, she still takes comfort in the fact that she is known by this person, and that their past together is not all a waste (which is actually quite beautiful, if so) - or the new love, who understands her in such a way that it comforts her at a time when she is most lonely and frustrated ('stalling a growing frown').
All we ever had is gone
Now we need to move on
It took me some time with the song to come to my own understanding of it. It's not intending to be mean or hurtful, it's just a statement of what they have both come to realize, that their dreams and hearts are leading them in different directions. Given that there is no shortage of break-up songs out there, I still think this one is quite unique and tells a story that is perhaps very common, but also very difficult to put into words.